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Red Raiders Look To Rally Against Sooners

It’s been quite a week for this Texas Tech program. Monday, Matt Wells was relieved of his duties as head coach and now the search for his replacement is actively ongoing. But that is not stopping Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma from kicking off in Norman this coming Saturday. Can interim head coach Sonny Cumbie rally this team to play its best game of the season?

When Texas Tech Is On Offense

This offense is going to have to score big points to compete in this game. Texas Tech has only scored 40+ in a game twice this season, and that came against FIU (54) and Kansas (41). The rushing attack has grown into a solid attack for the Red Raider offense. SaRodorick Thompson has resumed lead-back duties and has consistently found the endzone. He has seven rushing touchdowns in his last four games and is averaging 5.33 yards per carrying. Texas Tech needs to get even more out of this rushing attack this week. It will be tough as the Sooners’ rushing defense ranks 20th in the country, only surrendering 108.8 yards per game. Even more impressive, Oklahoma has faced two of the top three running backs in the conference in Bijan Robinson and Zach Evans.

Certainly, a successful rushing attack by Texas Tech would limit possessions for the Sooner offense. It would also help out a passing attack that still has not been able to get out of 2nd gear since Tyler Shough was injured against Texas. But even without a career day from Thompson and the rushing attack, the Oklahoma secondary provides plenty of opportunity for the breakout game this passing attack desperately needs. Oklahoma ranks 68th in passing defense, allowing 382.1 passing yards per game (and that is with only giving up 123 passing yards to Western Carolina earlier in the season). Quarterback Henry Colombi is going to need to let the ball fly and give these big receivers chances to make plays.

The passing attack needs to start with Erik Ezukanma. He is the best playmaker this offense has. There has to be a concerted effort to get the ball into his hands. But it doesn’t just fall on Ezukanma’s shoulders to elevate this passing attack. Kaylon Geiger, Loic Fouonji, Trey Cleveland, Travis Koontz, and Mason Tharp all have to be sharp and opportunistic for all four quarters to elevate the offense to its best performance of the season if they are going to pull the upset.

When Texas Tech Is On Defense

The Oklahoma offense starts and ends with freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. The five-star recruit from Washington D.C. has already had different moments that have left many wondering why it took Williams so long to see the field. But at the same time, Williams has demonstrated “true freshman” moments in his decision-making. Oklahoma still has plenty of offensive talent both in the backfield and out on the perimeter but lacks the true game-breaking player that they have had in years past. No Dede Westbrook/Marquis Brown/Ceedee Lamb-type player can turn the tide of the game in one play.

And yet, the Sooners still rank 17th nationally in total offense and 8th in scoring offense. How does the Red Raider defense find a way to slow down this powerful offense? It starts with generating pressure. The defense needs to find a way to make Williams uncomfortable. Force him into two or three errant passes that must be capitalized on by the defense and steal some possessions. The defensive line has not demonstrated the ability to generate a consistent pass rush all season. Especially when only bringing three to four pass rushers. Texas Tech needs to utilize their defensive strength, the linebackers, and bring extra pressure all game. It will force the injury-riddled secondary to play on an island more frequently. But the secondary stands no chance if Williams consistently has a clean pocket to operate out of.

Texas Tech Vs. Oklahoma Prediction

Oklahoma has been “vulnerable” all season. They only have one win against FBS opponents this year with a scoring margin larger than two touchdowns. In an opportunity to galvanize around each other, the Red Raiders could produce one of those results that the greater landscape of college football will look back at the end of the year and ask, “How in the world did that happen?” Texas Tech hasn’t beat Oklahoma since 2011. But this isn’t the year the losing streak ends. Texas Tech has yet to demonstrate the ability to limit a high-powered offensive attack. While Oklahoma isn’t “Oklahoma” explosive of recent years, they still have a ton of talent that will give the defense problems too large to overcome.

Oklahoma 59, Texas Tech 31

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